Monkey’s Journey to the West : How Manifold Versions of One Translation Helped to Disseminate a Classic Chinese Original

Wenyan LUO, Binghan ZHENG

Research output: Book Chapters | Papers in Conference ProceedingsBook ChapterResearchpeer-review


Many efforts have been made to facilitate the worldwide circulation of Journey to the West, a classical Chinese literary canon. This article studies the dissemination of Journey by focusing on one of its many English translations, namely Monkey: A Folk-tale of China. Monkey was first translated by Arthur David Waley and originally published by George Allen & Unwin in London in 1942. Based on actor-network theory, this research explores the agents that generated, and the dynamics that underpinned the network of translations (different versions of Monkey), which in turn extensively increased the circulation of the translation (Monkey). Discussions will be made based on the correspondence exchanged between a wide range of translation agents participating in the production of the English versions and the many re-translations of Monkey. Supporting data from other sources such as A Bibliography of Arthur Waley (Johns, A Bibliography of Arthur Waley, The Athlone Press, London, 1988) will be referenced where necessary. Through analysing how translation agents assembled, together with necessary resources (i.e. people and material objects), to produce and promote Monkey, the article reveals the very particular and practical translational and material conditions under which the many versions of Monkey were produced and disseminated. The article emphasises that, besides the translator, publishers were crucial in translation production and promotion, and therefore, publisher agencies should not be downplayed in translation studies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncountering China's Past : Translation and Dissemination of Classical Chinese Literature
EditorsLintao QI, Shani TOBIAS
PublisherSpringer Singapore
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9789811906480
ISBN (Print)9789811906473
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameNew Frontiers in Translation Studies book series (NFTS)
ISSN (Print)2197-8689
ISSN (Electronic)2197-8697

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This research is supported by the postdoctoral scheme of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and the Project of Technology Consulting Expert, Shanxi Province (山西省科技咨询专家项目).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.


  • Journey to the West
  • Arthur Waley's Monkey
  • Overseas dissemination
  • Translation agents
  • Translation production
  • Publisher agency
  • Arthur Waley’s Monkey


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